Ferrari and BMW dominate free practice


Ahead of this morning's sole free practice session, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, and the track temperature is 29 degrees. It is bright and sunny, with blue skies as opposed to yesterday's overcast conditions.

The lights go green, and first out is Takuma Sato, followed by Yamamoto, Liuzzi, Monteiro and Albers.

Sato posts the first time of the day, crossing the line at 1:27.536, while the other drivers head back to the pits.

Sato, now joined by teammate Yamamoto, raises the benchmark to 1:26.209, over 4s off yesterday's best (Vettel), the Super Aguri drivers the only men to have posted times as the session reaches the quarter-way mark.

Michael Schumacher takes to the track, followed by brother Ralf and Liuzzi.

Michael goes quickest, but surprisingly only takes 1.2s off Sato's best. Brother Ralf, however, can only manage 26.513, to go third.

Trulli and Barrichello leave the pits, as Michael improves to 24.105, the German bouncing his Ferrari over the vicious Monza kerbs.

Michael chips away at his time, gradually getting down to 1:23.715, as Barrichello goes second, ahead of Button and de la Rosa. The Honda drivers are back to using the Turkey-spec engines.

As Michael heads back to the pits, Button goes second, ahead of Heidfeld, de la Rosa and Barrichello. However, on his first flying lap Kimi Raikkonen goes quickest (23.539), only to be toppled by Button who posts a 23.295. Not wanting to be left out, Felipe Massa posts 23.457 to slide in between the Honda and McLaren drivers.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso goes seventh (24.160), as Massa goes quickest, the Brazilian lapping the Autodromo in 1:22.878.

Almost halfway through the session, we've yet to see Webber, Rosberg, Kubica or Klien.

Michael comes out again, but makes a mistake cuts the first chicane, he immediately heads back to the pits. Meanwhile, Rosberg makes a 'pig's ear' of the first chicane, and opts to take the escape road.

Alonso goes fourth (23.605), as Trulli posts 24.615 to go eleventh, just ahead of his Toyota teammate.

Rosberg posts 23.911 to go sixth, as Klien slots into seventh with 24.071. Still no sign of Webber.

All down the back straight Button is working heat into his tyres, weaving from one side of the track to the other.

With twenty-two minutes remaining, Webber heads down the pitlane, as does Michael.

Kimi goes quickest in the first sector, losing just a tiny bit of pace in the second. Meanwhile, teammate de la Rosa is also on a hot lap. Kimi takes second (23.026), but is instantly demoted by his teammate, who crosses the line at 22.915. However, Michael has improved with a 23.071 to take fourth. The top six are covered by 0.95s.

Raikkonen posts 22.851 to go quickest, as Michael returns to the pits. Meanwhile, Massa is back on track and already quickest in the first sector. The Brazilian is quickest in the second sector also, finally crossing the line at 21.891, taking almost a second of what could be his future teammate.

With under fifteen minutes remaining, both Renaults are well off the pace, with Fisichella over 2s down on Massa and Alonso 1.7s. One of the Hondas (Barrichello?) goes very wide, kicking clouds of dust into the air.

Just three drivers on track - Speed, Monteiro and Yamamoto - as the drivers prepare for the final assault.

The American improves to twelfth with a 24.335, as Barrichello and Trulli head down the pitlane.

The Italian improves to sixth (23.467), but with just over six minutes remaining we're still waiting for the big guns to come back out. No disrespect to Jarno.

Button heads down the pitlane, followed, shortly afterwards, by Michael. At this time, Massa is quickest, ahead of Raikkonen, de la Rosa, Michael, Klien and Button. Rosberg, Trulli, Coulthard and Heidfeld complete the top ten. Incidentally, Heidfeld is quickest through the speed trap (213.6 mph)

Heidfeld goes second (22.144), as Michael goes third (22.257), however, the Ferrari driver makes a mistake at the first chicane, and has to use the slip-road.

Kubica goes fourth, the BMWs going really well here, however, Massa is also on a hot lap. Indeed, the Brazilian crosses the line at 21.665 to consolidate his place at the top of the timesheets.

There are late improvements from Alonso and Fisichella, both of whom get into the top six, albeit 0.7s off the pace.

The session ends with Massa quickest, ahead of Heidfeld, Michael, Kubica, Alonso, Fisichella, Raikkonen, Barrichello, de la Rosa and Klien.

An interesting session, but no clues as to who looks best for pole, far less tomorrow's race. That said, Ferrari appears to have the edge.

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Published: 09/09/2006
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